Intense emotions during first appearance of suspect accused of killing Seattle business owner

A King County Jail courtroom erupted with emotion as the suspect in the death of a beloved Seattle business owner had his first appearance. The suspect, Ashton Lefall, is accused of killing D’Vonne Pickett Jr. in the Central District on Wednesday. 

Lefall has been charged with first-degree murder, three counts of first-degree assault, first-degree robbery and second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm. 

The pain, anger and heartache heard from Pickett’s family inside the courtroom was chilling. It was the first time his mother, sisters and loved ones were face-to-face with the suspect since Pickett’s death. As the tears rolled down their faces, they let the accusations fly.

"He’s a coward! He killed my only son! In front of his place of business! He killed my baby!" screamed Pickett’s mother, Nicky Chappell.

The pain of Pickett’s devastating loss runs even deeper for his family, as Pickett and Lefall were once childhood friends.

"I used to have that boy at my house. I fed him. He called me mom. He shot my baby in the back. He took him from us. I never get to see my baby again. One more time. One more time and that’s all I got. I’m so hurt," sobbed Chappell.

The grieving mother said Lefall has been a problem for the family for the past two years, claiming that he has been harassing and stalking them. She said Pickett filed a police report against Lefall in September.

"He definitely had it out for my son," said Chappell.

Pickett was shot multiple times Wednesday at his own business, The Postman, in Seattle’s Central District. He created the mail service store in honor of his late great-grandfather who worked in mail services for decades. 

Court documents said moments before the gunfire, Pickett’s wife was outside the business in her car when she saw Lefall reach for the store’s door. The documents stated she was, "asked about anyone who would have harmed D’Vonne, she identified Ashton Lefall as someone who had repeatedly threatened D’Vonne and his family members, including her."

"I believe he was somewhere waiting and watching," said Chappell.

Now, Pickett’s family is left wondering what their lives will be like without him.

"My mom lost her only son. The man of the house, the man of the family. That’s not fair. Where do we go from here? How do we put the pieces together?" cried Pickett’s younger sisters, De’Auz’Janae Pickett and Daz’Wonique Morris.

Community honors legacy of beloved business owner killed in Seattle's Central District

More than just a successful businessman—Pickett was a devoted father, husband, youth sports coach student-athlete at Seattle University and played professional basketball internationally. Thursday, cries from his mother echoed through the streets as she stood at the memorial in disbelief that her son and all of his accomplishments will be a memory.

The family said they are finding some comfort and healing from the tremendous amount of support and community. From the growing memorial outside of his business to the candlelight vigils, the family said the light Pickett instilled in so many people would shine bright forever.

"I know my brother is happy because that’s all he wanted. He wanted his legacy to be impactful and that’s what it is," said De’Auz’Janae.

"There was never a dull moment with my brother. My brother was the centerpiece to a table. He brought all the energy, positive energy. The light to the show. Everything I know, everything I push for is because of my brother," said Pickett’s youngest sister, Da’Ajeray Morris.

"Half man, half amazing. D’Vonne Pickett Jr. will live on," wept Chappell.

Pickett is remembered as a devoted father and husband, successful business owner, star athlete at Seattle University, youth sports coach and a dedicated leader in his community.

Lefall suspect's next court hearing was scheduled for Oct. 24.